Our first kind of fixed destination on New Zealand's South Island was the renowned Abel Tasman National Park. Named after the Dutch Sea explorer of same name who was the first European to "find" New Zealand. This was in 1642 and he stayed less than a day (I'm not sure he and his crew ever left their ship actually) maybe as him and his crew "found" the local Māori tribe as well... We visited the National Park to experience part of this unique walk and area that gives visitors a feel for how New Zealand once were uninhabited islands covered with bush all the way to the edge of the land and the big ocean.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located in the North of the South Island, Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand's smallest National Parks and housing one of the most famous hiking tracks: The Abel Tasman Coast Track. A 1-3 days hike in beautiful landscape combining beach walks (therefore the name Coastal Track) with bush tracks. "Ahh just like a lil' garden walk" as one DOC (Department of Conservation) ranger put it when we got further south, meaning that it's not a super hard walk.
Hiking Abel Tasman Beach Track In A Different, Less Crowded AND BUDGET FRIENDLY WAY
There's many ways to visit the National Park and do either parts of or the entire track. We wanted to explore renowned Abel Tasman and had just two requirements: (i) we wanted to do it in 1 day (ii) we wanted the least touristy/busy options. Due to reason 2 we skipped the boat cruise and Kayaking options taking off from the southern point of the track Marahau. Instead we drove North around the National Park through Takaka and started a 1 day-hike from Totaranui - the most Northern part of the track.
From here we did the 20-something km loop over Gibb's Hill which actually is the most steep part of the entire Abel Tasman Track. And least crowded. Perhaps there's a correlation between the 2... The loop took us 7-8 hours to conquer including rest, snack and swim stops!
With our route, we only got to experience the Northern Part of the track but with the loop option we ended up back with our car for a good nights sleep. Later, after our hiking day we drove down to Motueka the South point of the track to visit beautiful Kaiteriteri Beach - definitely worth a visit for a swim and a walk on golden beach sand!
Abel Tasman National Park and Coastal Track is such a beautiful area of NZ (I have the feeling I'll be writing this sentence a lot) with some amazing views of the big Tasman ocean a long the way.